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Health Behavior Change and Treatment AdherenceEvidence-based Guidelines for Improving Healthcare$
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Leslie Martin, Kelly Haskard-Zolnierek, and M. Robin DiMatteo

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380408

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380408.001.0001

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Improving Health Through the Development and Management of Habits

Improving Health Through the Development and Management of Habits

(p.74) 4 Improving Health Through the Development and Management of Habits
Health Behavior Change and Treatment Adherence

Leslie R. Martin

Kelly B. Haskard-Zolnierek

M. Robin DiMatteo

Oxford University Press

The ways in which healthy habits are formed and maintained over time, as well as the ways in which health-harmful habits can be extinguished, are the topics of this chapter. The principles of classical conditioning as they relate to health behaviors are reviewed. Then, following the operant conditioning framework, the important elements of reward (and punishment), along with the advantages and limitations of various schedules of reinforcement, are discussed. Included in this chapter are many practical suggestions for incorporating habit-changing tools into one’s daily routine, and a discussion of common barriers encountered by those attempting to change their habits—and how to overcome these barriers. The utility of external commitments (e.g., behavioral contracts and contingency contracts), along with the potential risks associated with external techniques (such as the reduction of intrinsic motivation), are reviewed. The importance of social support, choosing supportive environments, self-monitoring, and being mindful are highlighted.

Keywords:   habits, mindfulness, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, reward, reinforcement, behavioral contract, contingency contract, intrinsic motivation, social support, self-monitoring

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